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In an era of information overload from the internet, radio, and television, it is important that people take time to think about what they hear, and what they read. As a result of many reports about misconduct, and improper behavior across many agencies in the federal government, it is important to understand something about Ethics. Being ethical is not the same thing as following the law. Laws can deviate from what is ethical; (examples: tax laws allow variance from equal treatment principle//also, in some countries girls denied the right to an education.)
More than 3,000 years of history teaches us that ethics is not what a society finds acceptable. It is a given that in a society, most people conform to standards that are ethical. Yet societies often confront issues on which there is no consensus. Without getting into the pros and cons, no one living in America can argue that consensus does not exist on the issue of abortion.
No discussion of the subject can sustain itself unless we acknowledge that what we call ethics has evolved over several millennia, and to ignore that is to engage in intellectual dishonesty. We owe our modern day understanding of Ethics principally to philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato. It is Aristotle, however, that wrote one of the first recorded treatise on Ethics under a series of essays we know as the Nicomachean Ethics.
His essays, many of which survived, and can be studied today, provide some of the earliest examination of moral philosophy and he did this by developing a systematic and carefully constructed series of arguments.
At the core of Aristotle’s essays are questions of character or personality — what does it take for an individual human being to be a good person? Every activity has a final cause, the good at which it aims. Therefore true happiness can therefore be attained only through the cultivation of the virtues that make a human life complete.
Ethics is not an academic exercise found within the pages of a textbook. Ethics examines behavior and the values that underpin behavior. Because the central premise of ethics is to examine how humans are disposed to act in certain ways in response to similar situations, the habits of behaving in a certain way. The essential point is that ethics is a practical discipline that encourages individuals to construct good habits by repeated action and correction within a formalized process that can measure and provide constructive feedback.